After not missing a snap in 20 grueling NFL games, Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams is sticking to his plan in his first healthy offseason as a pro.
"I feel that I have a good offseason regimen," Williams said during a break in Tuesday's voluntary workout. "I've been showing up to camp at a good weight, strong, in shape, so I think that's the same M.O. I'm trying this year. I feel good about that so far."
Williams, the lone returning Opening Day and Super Bowl starter on the offensive line, felt like he didn't need to deviate from his routine. But he did get a lift out of the weight room when the Bengals opted to give him a fifth year on the 2019 rookie deal he signed as the club's first-round draft choice. His salary of $12.6 million, according to overthecap.com, is guaranteed in 2023 and he appreciates the gesture.
"I want to treat every year like I'm going to play my absolute best regardless of my contract situation, but it does feel good to have that vote of confidence from the organization," Williams said. "It means a lot to me. I appreciate having at least two more seasons here to work with my teammates, the new guys we brought in. It just allows me to focus on this year."
Williams never had a rookie year after he was the 11th player drafted. A few weeks later he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and he was limited to ten games in 2020 when his season ended with a knee injury. But in 2021 he took all 1,045 snaps in the games he played, missing only the regular-season finale where head coach Zac Taylor rested his starters. Williams finished 35th among Pro Football Focus tackle grades and came within 1.5 points of such players as Terron Armstead, Taylor Decker and Orlando Brown, Jr.
"I think I played well," Williams said. "I think that I wasn't causing a lot of problems from the left tackle spot, but I certainly know that I can improve and that's my goal everyday this offseason. Coming in now and working all the way through training camp into the season and just get a little bit better every day."
_No one is closer to his mother then Bengals nose tackle DJ Reader. But he didn't talk to even her after the Super Bowl. And he talks to her every day.
"I take losses pretty hard. Especially when you get that close," Reader said Tuesday. I didn't really to talk to that many people. My mom knows how I am. I didn't talk to my agent for a while. I didn't talk to my mom for about a week. Everybody just hung out for a little bit, then I get back and everything is all good.
"She doesn't even try to talk to me after stuff like that. We are very similar. We don't talk to each other after losses. (We) always talk about leaving it all out on the field. That's something her and my dad always preached to me since I was a kid, just demeanor, how you play the game. If you leave it all out on the field you don't have anything to be ashamed of. You are a natural competitor, you are going to be pissed, but don't be ashamed."
_Reader likes it when the Bengals defense is under the radar.
"We know we're good. We know how we feel about each other. The guys love one another," Reader said. "The guys want to fly around. We're going to make plays, and I don't really care if anybody on the outside notices. I'd rather them not and then roll into Cincinnati into Paul Brown on Sundays and get thumped in the mouth."
_Both Reader and Williams have pretty much moved on from the loss in the big game.
"You always feel like yourself you could have done more but if you go back and scan over the game you can't say oh this play killed us or this play killed us," Reader said. "It was a good game. It was a good game we didn't come out on top."
Williams says the offensive line knows what it has to do,
"Of course we didn't play well enough. I think that's obvious when you look at the stats and look at the outcome of the game," Williams said. "I think everyone in the locker room understands that and we know we want to get to that stage again and we want to perform a lot better the next time that we're there so that's our goal, that's what we're working towards."
_Everyone in Bengaldom is on the edge of their seat waiting for Thursday night's schedule reveal, right?
"You just told me (about it)," Reader said. "Just week-to-week, whoever's out there. I mean I definitely watch the film and everything like that, but just knowing we have to play them at this time and them at this time, week-to-week I'm out there for whatever opponent we've got and just excited about it."
_In his third season as the starter Williams has a third bookend at right tackle in La'el Collins, the estimable former Cowboy who rated 16th in PFF grades last season.
"He was a great tackle in Dallas and he was great tackle at LSU, watching him there, too," Williams said. "I've gotten to meet him, work out with him a little bit. He's super strong and athletic. You can see that watching him on film. But he seems like he's a good guy, too. Really humble. He's just been working hard, keeping his head down. For somebody who has a lot of hype around him because he's a great player, he could have come in with a lot more ego and he hasn't. He's come in, he's put in work with the rest of us. I've got a good impression so far."
_Not only did they play next to each other last year, but Reader has a bond with Larry Ogunjobi that stretches all the way back to their hometown of Greensboro, N.C. The two plan to put on a "gala," next month in their hometown and by then they have to be hoping to have some kind of good news on Ogunjobi's broken foot.
After a career-high seven sacks as a relentless three technique, Ogunjobi's season came to an end in the Wild Card win over the Raiders. His $40 million deal with the Bears was negated two days later when he failed a physical and the two have been commiserating in frequent contact.
"It's a very, very unfortunate situation. It's one of those situations you feel like your life is going to change and, boy, does your life change," Reader said. "We pray together. We talk to each other. He knows I always have his back. I'm just praying for him. I've always had his back. I've watched him grow as a player. It's very unfortunate the situation happened.
"He's doing well. He's in high spirits. You're not going to break someone like that, he's in high spirits." ….
Williams took note of the one offensive lineman the Bengals drafted in North Dakota State's Cordell Volson and his summer job that sometimes entails moving derailed trains.
"I haven't got a chance to meet him or talk to him so far," Williams said. "I watched him get drafted and everything. I appreciate that he was in a heavy machinery thing. I think that that's a good look for an O-lineman to come in. I haven't met him yet, but I have a good idea of the type of person he's going to be."